Making a change: Living Rural with a baby

Hello!

I am so happy that Jess has asked me to contribute to MDM, I really hope this can be a space where all people can come and find some inspiration and motivation, regarding all aspects of life. Parenthood is super challenging and I believe it's crucial to have a great support network of friends and family. Living away from your support network comes with a whole new set of challenges but also many wonderful rewards! Welcome to my first blog which addresses the issue of moving away from friends and family.

Making a move

My husband and I are both teachers based in Queensland, and in Queensland to gain permanency in our profession you have to do rural and remote service (sometimes there are ways around this but generally this is the quickest way to get to an area you most desire). We are very lucky to call Noosa our home so, and as you can imagine this is a highly desirable area to teach, so in order to get a placement on the Sunshine Coast rural and remote teaching is a must for us. When I had our son Wylie in November of 2014 we knew we needed Simon (Hubby & baby daddy) to acquire permanency to secure our financial future. Moving far away from family with a three month old was extremely daunting to me so we decided to take a smaller step and move to Gladstone which was roughly 4 hours from family. This move was one of the best things to happen to us as it allowed me to stand on my own two feet and step into my new role as “mummy”.  Now please know I am in no way criticising anyone who uses their families to support them- it’s amazing- but for me personally not having that network readily at hand made me a stronger and more confident parent. There were endless phone calls of course, frequent visits. In fact for the first six months I think I went home every fortnight, slowly the time between visits lengthened as I became more resilient and capable. That year was essential for me to be where I am in my life now.

Fast forward to 2016 and we have made the exciting move to Far North Queensland to a small Aboriginal community called Hope Vale, which has around 1500 residents. For our family to visit us they need to fly into Cairns and either drive 400km north or catch a small charter flight to Cooktown and then drive 50km down a dirt road- so it’s safe to say visitors are not frequent. If you are contemplating a move away from friends and family I am here to reassure you that it can be one of the most amazing experiences if you let it.

Do:

Research facilities available to you before you leave.

This is especially helpful if you are moving to a remote area, it will help you to know what you need to buy in bulk before you leave think- formula, nappies, and baby medicines. We have an IGA available to us in Cooktown and a pharmacy which both stock products I prefer. If there is something particular I need I add it to my list of things to get when we visit cairns next. If children are school age or almost ready for day care, google it all before you go so you have some knowledge to guide you.

Be realistic.

Know that you will be far away. Understand that there will be times you’ll miss home. Expect there to be times where you just wish you could click your fingers and your mum was by your side. A friend suggested to me to make a jar of reasons. This is simply a jar filled with little notes to remind me why we made this move, like: “This will bring us closer as a family”, “it’s an experience of a lifetime”, “and this is not forever”, “This will help our finances immensely” etc. Whenever you feel frustrated or down take your jar out and feel reassured again.

Get involved.

Find something to do in the community that will give you a sense of belonging. Join a mothers group, join a gym or exercise class. Being a mum is such a great way to meet people and an excuse for get togethers- play dates! Find something to do by yourself away from partner/children. Being together all the time can sometimes lead to moments of frustration and cabin fever so you and your partner need to dedicate time to yourselves as individuals and as a couple. If baby sitters are not your thing or unavailable, date night might now be a picnic in the lounge room while the kids sleep.

Make the most of your new surroundings.

Research your new home, explore the surroundings and make the most of your weekends. Hope Vale is in Cape York which means we are blessed with so many of nature’s gifts; waterfalls, beaches, bush treks! Going to your local council is a good place to start to get information on your area if there is no information facility.

Keep in contact.

21st century technology has made it so much easier to keep in contact with people, even from afar. My parents now have Snapchat, my grandmother even has it! Facebook messenger calls are a daily occurrence in our home with various family and friends. Every time I go into town I try to send a postcard to a different family member or friend to let them know we are thinking of them (and maybe entice them to come and visit!).

Whilst moving away can be isolating at times and even frustrating, it is also a great adventure which will help you to become a stronger and more independent person/parent. We have become so close as a family and made wonderful friends. Not having your family network to fall back on makes you push yourself to build new relationships which is extremely rewarding. And when you go home it makes it all that more special to see your loved ones. 

So, all I can say is, do it! Take the chance and reap the glorious rewards awaiting you!

Till next time ladies,

LB. Xo